Middle East snaps up North East
‘Tis well known they like their football in Newcastle.
Tino Army — Faustian Pact
In January 1996 the club bought flamboyant Colombian striker Faustino Asprilla from Parma.
Known as Tino, Asprilla was a showman and one of the most popular players Newcastle ever had.
However, despite building up a big lead over Manchester United that year, Newcastle only went on to finish second.
The following year Asprilla scored a hat trick against Luis Figo’s Barcelona in the Champion’s League – the last goals he scored for the club.
Asprilla, along with Cantona, Kanchelskis, Zola, Ravanelli, Vialli, Gullit, Ginola, & Desailly, was among the first wave of mid nineties big money overseas transfers in the Premier League.
Agents made big money, as did managers. Former Arsenal boss George Graham was reprimanded for taking ‘bungs’. But he wasn’t the only one.
Corruption existed but didn’t get much coverage.
Some players got accused of match fixing. Including former Liverpool goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar, Wimbledon goalkeeper Hans Segers and Aston Villa (former Wimbledon) striker John Fashanu.
They cleared their names but Grobbelaar and Segers got done for betting irregularities all the same.
The men had been accused of colluding with a Malay betting syndicate.
In 1992 Lou Macari, former Swindon manager, was accused of betting his side would lose to Newcastle in an FA cup game they lost 5-0. He claimed someone else placed the bet as an insurance against the club exiting the tournament early. And the players were suffering because house prices were so expensive.
Throw-In Spread Betting
In the mid nineties betting rules changed and spread bets were allowed on the timing of throw-ins and the number of corners and yellow cards in a game. These could all be gamed by players. Simple match fixing was no longer the only threat to the integrity of the game.
Arsenal manager, Frenchman, Arsene Wenger knew about match-fixing from his time in France. Olympique de Marseilles, with Chris Waddle, and their owner Bernard Tapie were convicted of it in the early nineties.
Wenger called for the practice of betting on the number of throw-ins and the timing of the first throw-in to be banned.
Sometimes players were seen booting the ball off the pitch right at the start of the game in an obvious attempt to manipulate the timing of the first throw in.
This interfered with the free flow and trust in the game.
Wenger even called for throw ins to be banned outright!
So what made these problems go away?
Money. By paying the players higher and higher wages, they were less and less incentivised to get involved in match fixing. They still gambled but there have been few match-fixing scandals (to date).
When Marseilles were done for match-fixing they were at their height. They apparently paid opponents to go easy on them in the run up to bigger games.
The EU Bosman ruling on free transfers and the lifting of the cap on foreign players meant England became the perfect place for talented footballers to retire on fat cash.
Just as the prevalence of ecstasy and rave culture was credited with helping end football violence in the 90s, so too did the influx of foreign players play a role in the fight against racism.
Till then most local clubs were owned by local businessmen, but as club football became televised globally, so too did foreign ownership become normal.
Rise of the Owner Manager
In 1995 Blackburn won the Premier League under Manager Kenny Dalglish. The club was owned by local steel magnate Jack Walker. He famously preferred no black players.
Three years previously (1992) Leeds United had won the title with Eric Cantona as striker.
Their then manager Howard Wilkinson is the last English Manager to have won the English Premier League. (nearly thirty years ago)
So why can’t English Managers win their own League and why can the England football team no longer win tournaments?
Why do England lose?
It is often said (in England) that the English invented football. Maybe this is true.
They certainly helped create many footballing institutions – and the rules.
It is also often said that the English invented the English Language.
From a copyright perspective english is more like an open source set of memes than an actual language in its own right
But, like football, it now belongs to everyone – if you can afford it.
Football, cricket and boxing were all broadcast on terrestrial TV till the early 90s.
At which point they started shifting over to Rupert Murdoch’s paid Sky Sports station.
Ticket prices shot up and many fans were simply priced out.
So yes, England may have invented football, but capitalism and government lobbying stopped many English people from being able to access it in their own homes.
The gap between elite speakers of english and the so-called hoi polloi still exists – though distinctions are far from simple due to the dynamism of English capitalism and, though unfashionable to say, class boundaries.
Of which Pygmalion / My Fair Lady’s Phonetics Professor Henry Higgins was most aware.
An Englishman’s way of speaking absolutely classifies him,
The moment he talks he makes some other
Englishman despise him.
Hear them down in Soho Square speaking English any way they dare
Just as Professor Higgins wondered “Why can’t the English teach their children how to speak? ” FT’s anthropological sport columnist Simon Kuper wrote, Why England lose? also known abroad as Soccernomics.
Now you’re talking
Language is a vehicle for a culture.
In the case of English, it’s like the dollar. The reserve currency. Accepted everywhere.
Sure, the Yuan / Renmibi is the future, and the changeover should have already happened, but it hasn’t.
English is the bastard child of many different vehicles. And it is currently the language of business.
So when Saudi Arabia buy a British Football Club that is a big deal.
They could have done this years ago but stayed out of UK football.
Leaving the football to the Qataris and Emiratis.
When Brazil’s Neymar moved to Qatar-owned Paris St Germain from Barcelona for €200m in 2017 it was clearly more than just a football transfer.
It was a geo-strategic chess move.
Saudi bought the Salvatori Mundi Leonardo painting around the same time.
Highlighting the difference in their investment strategies.
At the time there was a global PR campaign against Qatar. Saudi had accused them of hosting terrorists. Though this may have been true, the Qatari Royal Family and military were anti-ISIS, whereas Saudi themselves are rumoured to have been funding ISIS.
Buying art and not football teams is in keeping with the old Saudi Arabian way.
But at last year’s Davos in the Desert the managing director of Manchester United spoke about the club’s approach to international marketing and e-sports.
President Trump’s son in law Jared Kushner spoke there too, as did Prime Minister Modi of India and Ali Parsa of Babylon Health.
Saudi PIF have stakes in Babylon Health’s app business which takes NHS money away from GPs (primary care doctors) and pays it out as profit to private shareholders like the Saudi Government.
The logic of a post-Brexit dirty money City of London oligarch playground dictates that you must be present in all markets where there is money to be made.
So instead of a local or even a British businessman owning and running Newcastle United it is now normal that the revenue and profits will start going to Saudi Arabia.
Just as it is quite normal that Saudi are making money undermining the NHS through Babylon.
Butchers without Borders
There is still no covid testing of passengers arriving at UK airports from around the world. Home Secretary Priti Patel, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, Health Secretary Matt Hancock and London Mayor Sadiq Khan appear to have been silent on this.
Jeremy Hunt the former Health Secretary is now the Chair of the Health Select Committee. He is supposed to be scrutinising his successor on the nation’s health. There is supposed to be a ‘grilling’ tomorrow.
Given that Hunt himself did so much to turn the health sector from a public service into a profit centre, we can safely presume Hancock is not going to face tough questioning.
For the simple truth about the UK Public Health System NHS story, watch The Great NHS Heist:
As Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt made a big deal about press freedom around the world, but said nothing about the plight of political prisoner Julian Assange at home.
Assange is currently locked up 23 1/2 hours a day in Belmarsh and has a lung condition. Covid has affected the prison and yet he is not being removed for his own safety. I wonder how many other at risk prisoners have already died of Covid?
It turns out Hunt’s bid for Prime Minister was backed by a close ally of Saudi Prince Mohammed Bin Salman – the one who ordered the murder, in Istanbul, of Washington Post Journalist Jamal Kashoggi.
Google, who also have shares in Babylon, have teamed with Apple to make a Covid19 tracing app.
In China it’s WeChat, AliPay and Baidu who are leading the way.
In 2018 Babylon Health did an AI deal to treat patients in China through WeChat (owned by Tencent).
So the surveillance of the virus is definitely happening and it is more than likely this will involve permanent surveillance of individuals.
Thierry Breton French Internal Market Commissioner at the EU ( a very powerful job) says we shouldn’t worry because all the data is aggregated and can’t be used to track individuals:
The Guardian reported that a memo was leaked in which it was suggested that the NHS tracing app have a deanonymisation option which would allow the government to get data on individuals. This was denied by government press officers.
To conclude, there are lots of ways in which judgements can be made about you.
This is not new.
But there are more and more ways in which data can be collected and for it to be twisted against you when you least want it to.
So psychologically prepare for yourself to be attacked.
You need as much access to your own data as the people (or machines) who are going to be deciding your future.
Even having the data may not on its own be enough to get your voice heard when you need it to, as we have very much moved into the age of the jobsworth.
For all the privatisation that has been going on, this is a golden age for officaldom.
The pay may or may not be great but the job is secure and the opportunity for psychopathy is immense.
As we rub up daily against the business methods and logic of Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, the Russian, Saudi, Brussels, Chinese and American Governments it is worth remembering that nothing lasts forever.
Surveillance is there to prosecute people. And innocent people will be prosecuted as corporations reinforce the power of the state and vice versa.
As the solider in the Dr Strangelove scene says below –